Paul’s Prayer for the Philippians

Text: Philippians 1:9-11

In Paul’s letter to the Philippians, he described his prayer for them. He was continually thankful for them (Philippians 1:3) and looked forward to their fellowship in the gospel (Philippians 1:5). His appreciation of them and fellowship with them led to his prayer (Philippians 1:9-11). This prayer is applicable to us as well.

That Their Love May Abound

  • Remember the greatness of love (1 Corinthians 13:13) – greatest command (Matthew 22:36-40); love is the nature of God (1 John 4:8); to have love is to be like God (1 John 4:7, 16)
  • What is love? – seeking the good of others and putting them ahead of ourselves; this love would lead them to act with humility toward one another and maintain unity (Philippians 2:2-4)
  • They were to continue to abound in this – Christians must always be growing and improving (1 Thessalonians 4:1, 10)

That They May Have Real Knowledge

  • Love must abound in real knowledge – remember that love is from God because God is love (1 John 4:7-8); love is the fulfillment of His law (Romans 13:8-10)
  • Therefore, to act in love, one must know the truth – cannot do what we do not know (principle of Romans 10:2-3)
  • This will enable one to keep His commandments – obedience is done out of love (1 John 5:3; John 14:15)

That They May Have Discernment

  • Love must abound in knowledge, but we must also have discernment – we are to love as God loves, but that does not mean ignoring or overlooking sin/error
  • They were to discern between those who followed the pattern and those who did not (Philippians 3:16-19) – recognize those who walked according to the pattern and follow their example (cf. 1 Corinthians 11:1); recognize those who walked as enemies of the cross (cf. 1 Corinthians 5:6; 15:33)
  • They had to discern what was right so they could live according to it (Philippians 3:16)

That They May Approve What Is Excellent

  • This is related to their discernment/judgment (Philippians 1:9)
  • Approve means to test, examine, scrutinize (Thayer) – Christians are to test all things (1 Thessalonians 5:21-22); hold fast to the truth and reject every form of error
  • Excellent means what is valuable – Christians are to recognize what is truly important (Philippians 3:7, 11); value the truth (Proverbs 23:23), our soul (Matthew 16:26), our inheritance in heaven (1 Peter 1:4), and live accordingly

That They May Be Sincere and Blameless

  • Why are Christians to abound in love, have knowledge and discernment, and approve what is excellent? – so that they may be sincere and blameless
  • Sincere – means to be pure, unsullied (Thayer); free from sin (1 John 2:1; Romans 6:11, 18)
  • Blameless – not the same word often translated blameless (cannot be accused of sin); this word means not causing to stumble, of a smooth road (Thayer); this is about removing any hindrance from serving God (Hebrews 12:1)

That They May Be Filled with the Fruit of Righteousness

  • Being sincere (free from sin) and blameless (unhindered in our service to God) produces this – being filled with the fruit of righteousness
  • What is righteousness? – the state of being right before God; the standard of righteousness is found in God’s word (Romans 1:16-17); we must practice it (1 John 3:7)
  • What is the fruit of righteousness? – that which is produced from our obedience to the word of God; similar to the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23); others can see our good works (Matthew 5:16)


  • Paul’s prayer for the Philippians should be our prayer for ourselves and our brethren
  • Abound in love – love that is based in real knowledge and proper discernment
  • Approve what is excellent – hold to the truth and reject error in order to be sincere and blameless
  • Practice righteousness – follow God’s word in everything that we do

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